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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Free eCourse: How to Make Money from Home with an Amazon FBA Business

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

If you’re interested in making an income from home and you’re looking for ideas, be sure to sign up for this free eCourse on how to work from home with an Amazon FBA business.

This e-mail series is taught by the Selling family — a husband and wife team who have been making a full-time income from home through Amazon since 2011.

In this series, you will learn:

  • What an Amazon FBA business is and how it works
  • What types of items you can sell on Amazon and how prices differ
  • How to set up an Amazon seller account
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Go here to sign up for this free eCourse.

Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make A Difference, where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

I also highly, highly recommend Angie Nelson’s eCourse: How to Land Your First Work-At-Home Job. This step-by-step guide is packed with valuable information and tips!

Earn money for taking surveys and testing products with Ipsos i-Say!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Looking for ways to stretch your budget a bit further or earn a little extra from home? Sign up for Ipsos i-Say to earn money for taking surveys and testing new products!

Ipsos i-Say is a reputable, global survey-based market research company that gives its community members a chance to provide opinions in exchange for survey points that earn you money.

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Surveys are a great way to make some extra income on the side! This is a great list of legitimate survey sites you can trust!

Looking for more opportunities to make money from home? See my list of recommended survey companies here.

Why We’re Not Getting a Christmas Tree This Year

Why We're NOT Getting a Christmas Tree This Year

“Does anyone want to get a big Christmas tree this year?”

I asked the question a few weeks ago as we were discussing our plans for December and Christmas and what traditions we would do and what we wouldn’t do this year.

Our pre-lit artificial Christmas tree had breathed its last breath last Christmas, after a faithful stint as our stalwart Christmas tree. Every year, it had looked a little more Charlie-Brown-esque and had yet another string of lights that didn’t work.

So last year, after setting it up and realizing that it had probably served well past its prime, we decided it was time to retire it and figure out a replacement for it this Christmas.

Fast forward a year, and it was time to decide on a replacement or what we were going to do instead. And in typical Paine family fashion, I put the decision up for a vote by asking if people wanted to get another big Christmas tree.

Right about I need to stop and say that some of you might be shocked that we would even consider NOT getting a big Christmas tree. (When we told some of our friends we were thinking of not getting a Christmas tree this year, they about fell out of their chairs. I know, it sounds so Scrooge-like to admit it!)

But after our beans and rice law school years when we had an almost $0 budget for Christmas, I have learned that Christmas joy doesn’t come from the money you spend; it’s a result of the special memories you make together.

From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve given ourselves permission for Christmas to be different each year. We’re not married to any tradition.

Just because we did something last year doesn’t mean we have to do it again this year.

Instead, at the end of November, we all sit down together as a family and discuss what we’d love for December to look like this year. We each choose one family activity to put on the calendar and we decide if there are any traditions from previous years we want to make a priority — including, this year, whether or not to have a big Christmas tree.

There has been so much freedom in this — especially as the kids have gotten older and what is important and exciting to them has changed a lot.

This year, at the end of our Christmas tree discussion, they decided they really didn’t want a big Christmas tree (which I honestly was surprised about!). Instead, they asked if we could get little Christmas trees for each of their bedrooms.

Let me tell you, they had so much fun picking out their trees (we got them from Target, by the way) and picking out decor for them. They each have a unique tree in their own rooms and I love seeing the joy that it brings them.

And then Jesse got a little 3-foot tree for our living room that is just perfect. We added some Christmas pillows and a few other little Christmas decorations and it’s the simple Christmas look I’ve always dreamed of for the main area of our house.

By the way, want to know what other activities the kids picked to do together in December? They asked that we have Game Nights on Fridays, Movie Nights on Saturdays (“And please no cheesy Hallmark movies!” They begged!), and that we all get Christmas jammies.

That’s it, you guys. I listed off a long list of other ideas and nobody was interested in any of them.

Jesse and picked a few other things we’re going to do together (an Advent devotional, a fun weekend road trip to see John Crist’s show — tickets to his show was actually my birthday present from Jesse!, baking Christmas cookies, and spending time with extended family), but otherwise, we’re keeping December really low key.

I share this to give you permission (in case you need it) to let some traditions go or to simplify things this year if that’s what your family or soul needs.

There’s no joy in overcomplicating things or stretching yourself too thin. And it’s okay if your Christmas looks very different than some one else’s!

Looking for some simple and frugal Christmas ideas? Check out ALL the posts I’ve shared in my A Simple Christmas series over the past few years.

Get Your FREE Copy of Celebrating & Savoring A Simple Christmas

You can download my Christmas ebook for free. I wrote it a few years ago and it’s packed full of a variety of ideas to slow down and savor the Christmas season. (Since it’s a few years ago, not all of them are ones we still do, but I hope that it will inspire you!)

To get a copy, just fill out your name and email address here. Then, click on the link in your inbox to confirm your email address. You’ll be emailed a download link as soon as you do so.

How to Stop Buying Cheap Stuff

Trying to stick to your budget but keeping getting pulled in by great deals? Here's how to stop the cycle!

Thank you for all you do. I have been inspired to be more mindful about my purchases. I would like to hear you address an issue I have had and that is buying things because they are so cheap but not needing the items. So, the purchases just sit there. A purchase only is good if you need it. -Tina

At this time of year, when there are deals and sales galore, it’s easy to get caught up in the sale frenzy and spend money on items that aren’t actually a good deal for us.

A sale might be a great deal for some people, but just because a sale is a great deal for some people doesn’t mean that it’s a great deal for everyone.

So how can you be more mindful of your purchases and not just spend money because it was a can’t-miss deal? Well, here are four suggestions I have:

1. Have a budget.

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? I know, it’s not exciting to have and stick with a budget.

But guess what? It will be exciting when you don’t have to stress over getting a credit card bill that you can’t pay!

Jesse and I have always lived on a strict written budget. And we attribute the current financial position we are in almost 100% to the fact that we have stuck with a budget since the time we were married.

(Hate the word budget? Then don’t use that word and use a different more positive word that works for you.)

A budget has also forced us to communicate about our wants and needs and goals. And it’s forced us to be really creative when times are tight.

There are times when it’s been really hard — because having a budget has meant that we have had to say no to a lot of good things and fun things and things we’d really love to have or do.

On the flip side, a budget has also given us permission to spend money. As soon as we had some wiggle room in our budget, we were able to add a Blow Category to our budget. Living on a budget and spending less than we make has also allowed us to have the extra money to give generously.

The best thing about a budget is that it lets you know whether you can spend on an item or whether you shouldn’t spend on an item. When you see that great deal on shoes at the mall or electronics on Amazon or cereal at the grocery store, you will know whether or not you have the money for it by consulting your budget.*

Psst! Feel like you can’t cut your budget but you’re not making ends meet? Read this post.

2. Use cash or a prepaid card or gift card.

A budget is imperative, but if you need help with actually sticking with your budget — especially when it comes to purchases like your Christmas gifts — you could make it easier for yourself to follow through with a budget by using cash or a pre-paid card or gift card.

These might not be as efficient as using a debit or credit card, but they will certainly be more effective at helping you stick with your budget.

I prefer cash since I can see exactly how much I have left to spend. For me, there’s something about having to pull out cash and hand it over when shopping that forces me to really examine each purchase and be 100% sure I want to spend the money on it.

I’ll find myself asking questions like, “Will I really use this? Could I get this for less money somewhere else? Do I really need this right now? How often do I think I’ll use/wear this?”

Using cash is great for in-store purchases, but it doesn’t really work for online purchases — and that’s where most of the best deals often are. This is where a pre-purchased prepaid card or gift card can come into play.

Designate the amount of money you plan to spend online for Christmas gifts (or whatever the purchases will be) onto this card and then that will highly motivate you to actually stick with that pre-determined budget!

(You can also earn free gift cards to use on Christmas gifts! Here are some of my favorite sites to use for that.)

Psst! Thinking you might want to start using cash envelopes? Read this post on 7 Budget-Saving Cash Envelope Hacks.

3. Get some accountability.

If you struggle to stick with your budget and are often swayed by “good deals” to overspend, I would encourage you to set up some accountability. This could be in the form of a budget tracker program like You Need a Budget. But I’d strongly suggest taking it a step further and asking for someone to be your accountability partner.

This would be a person who would know what your financial goals are, know what your budget is, and would get to check in with you regularly on how it’s going sticking with your budget. You could even give them access to your budgeting spreadsheet or software so they could check up on you in real-time!

Also, set up parameters for what influences you have in your life. If you find that reading certain blogs or following certain people on social media or going to certain stores or reading certain magazines or websites causes you to want to overspend, maybe you need to just stay away from them.

In the same vein, replace those negative influences with positive ones. Have people around you who will encourage you to stick with your budget, make wise financial choices, and live intentionally and frugally.

(Need some help finding frugal friends? Read this post.)

4. Wait 24 hours.

If you have the money in your budget, but you’re just not sure whether you should spend it on this item, a great exercise is wait 24 hours before purchasing it.

This gives you time to consider whether you really think it’s a good deal. It gives you space to step back and analyze whether or not you will really use something. And it also guarantees that you’re not just buying into an adrenaline rush and buying something you’ll later regret.

If you still think the item is a great deal after 24 hours, then you can guiltlessly purchase it. And there’s a really great chance it will be something that you will love and use for years to come because you were so thoughtful in your purchase.

What tips or advice would you have for Tina? Share them in the comments.

* One of the tools we love to help us track our spending and make sure we are sticking with the budget is using You Need a Budget. You can read more how it works and why we love it so much here.

photo credit; photo credit

How to Save Money on Groceries When You Live in California

Trying to save money on groceries in California? It's not as hard as it seems! Read this!!

I have been following this blog for several years now and love it! What I am challenged by are the grocery savings that many of you are able to enjoy in other parts of the U.S.

I reside in California and grocery prices are very high here. I am unsure how I would only spend $70 a week on groceries for three of us let alone five! I work part-time and am currently advancing my degree so I don’t do a lot of couponing. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Hi there! Your question is one I’ve heard often and I decided it was high time I answer it. And I hope that what I share encourages you to not only know that you’re not the only one who feels this way, but also to know that there are practical things you can do to save a lot of money on groceries.

Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Focus on the Positive

It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative things and miss the positive things about our circumstances. Here’s the thing: While cost of living might be higher in CA and grocery prices on some things might be much more, that’s definitely not the case for ALL groceries.

You see, I’ve actually shopped in CA before and found great deals there! In fact, when I shopped there, I was shocked by how inexpensive some of the CA produce prices were. They were incredibly cheap compared to what I’m used to paying in other parts of the country.

Jessica from LifeAsMom says in her post on Saving Money on Foods in Southern California:

The mainstream grocery stores, like Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons, usually have one or two loss leaders each week. But the smaller chains like Henry’s and Sprouts have a whole barrel of bargains on a weekly basis. A peek at my recent finds:

limes $0.10
kiwis $0.20
apples $0.49
lettuce $0.88
cuties $1.97
swiss chard $2
green onions $0.25
cucumbers $0.49
zucchini $0.88/lb
blackberries $0.97
tomatoes $0.88/lb
cilantro $0.25
broccoli $0.97/lb

Go read the rest of her fantastic post here for more tips.

Now maybe you can’t find all of those same prices at your local stores, but I bet if you looked around, you’d see that there are, indeed, some pretty great produce prices in California. And there are probably other great deals and sales on other items, too!

2. Stop Saying “I Can’t”

If you pre-decide that you can’t do something, there’s an almost guaranteed chance you won’t be able to do it.

This means that if you decide that that you can’t save money on groceries because groceries are too expensive in California, you’ll likely not be inspired or motivated to try to cut your grocery bill.

On the other hand, if you pre-decide to have a can-do, creative attitude, you’re going to be a lot more successful at saving money on groceries. Stop telling yourself that you can’t save money on groceries because you live in a high cost area, and start challenging yourself to find creative ways to save.

2. Pick Your Own Number

I noticed that you said you can’t figure out how on earth you could only spend $70 per week for your family of three, let alone if you had a family of five. Well, guess what? You don’t have to!

The only reason I share about our grocery budget here is to show you ideas of how we are keeping our grocery budget low. But the $70 grocery budget number is not something I’m putting out there saying you need to do, too.

That’s just what works for our family right now based upon the time I have to shop and the stores and prices I know I’m able to get and how much (and what type!) of food our family consumes.

There is no one-size-fits-all grocery budget number because everyone is in a different season with different needs, different capacity, different stores, and different options. So choose a number that works for you and your family based upon the time you have, your dietary needs and preferences, and your store options. And don’t feel guilty if the number is very different from the number another family has!

3. Find Someone to Do the Legwork For You

One of the best ways you can stay inspired to save money (and save a lot of time in the process!) is by finding a blogger who is covering the deals at your local store.

To do this, just search for your local store + “blog” or “coupons” or “deals” and search until you find something relevant. There are typically blogs or forums covering deals at just about every store in the US.

4. Make it a Game!

Think about when any pro sports team plays against another team. They have to change up their approach and their plays each time because each time is different. But the goal is the same with each game: they want to win!

It’s the same with saving money on groceries. I’ve lived in multiple cities and each one had different stores. I’ve learned that you have to change your strategy each time, but you can keep the end goal the same — to save money on groceries.

It’s all about being creative, thinking outside the box, pairing sales with coupons (you can search our Coupon Database to easily find any available printable coupons for items you are already planning to purchase), and following the deals that a blogger shares for your local stores (hopefully you can find one!)

I also recommend looking into whether there are any discount grocery stores in your area, looking for markdowns at your local stores, learn to buy ahead when there are great sales (that way you never pay full price for most things you buy), plan your meals based upon what is inexpensive and on sale, and just do the best you can do!

(Need more ideas? Read my post on 10 Simple Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill by $50 This Week.)

Do you live in California or have you lived there before? If so, I’d love for you to chime in with your best tips and tricks (and if you know any great bloggers who are covering deals there, leave their link in the comments).

Inbox Dollars: Get paid to read emails, take surveys, search the web, and more!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Inbox Dollars

Sign up for Inbox Dollars and you’ll get paid to read emails, search the web, take surveys, and more. I loved earning free gift cards from Inbox Dollars when Jesse was in law school and I had a lot more time than money.

Sign up here to get started.

Surveys are a great way to make some extra income on the side! This is a great list of legitimate survey sites you can trust!

Looking for more opportunities to make money from home? See my list of recommended survey companies here.